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Decluttering Before Moving [11-Step Guide]

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Getting ready to move is like getting ready for a new part of a story. It’s a mix of feeling excited and a little unsure of where to start. It’s like tidying up your life, focusing on what’s most important.

Imagine your stuff at home as pieces of a puzzle. You’re picking the right ones that fit into your new picture and leaving behind the ones that don’t match.

Simplifying your living space before moving is like preparing for a new beginning. Just as Peter Walsh, an expert in decluttering, said, “What I know for sure is that when you declutter – whether it’s on your home, your head, or your heart – it is astounding what will flow into that space that will enrich you, your life, and your family.”

In simpler terms, decluttering is not just about letting go of belongings. It’s about making room for new and positive experiences. By keeping things organised and straightforward, we gain clarity and focus. Decluttering is a beneficial step toward a happier and more fulfilling future.

But how can you do this without it feeling like a never-ending task? Don’t worry! We have a simple 11-step plan, like a roadmap, to simplify the decluttering part of the house-moving checklist.

So, let’s keep it casual, grab a metaphorical coffee, and start this tidying adventure! 

Step 1: Set Clear Goals and Priorities

The first step to decluttering your home before moving is to set clear goals and priorities. Ask these four crucial questions to yourself.

  • Why do you want to declutter? 
  • What are you hoping to achieve? 
  • How much do you want to get rid of? 
  • How much space do you have in your new home?
  • How much space do you want in your new home? 
  • What are your must-haves in your new home?

Clear goals and priorities will help maintain your focus and motivation throughout decluttering. It will also help you make better decisions about what to keep and let go.

Some examples of goals and priorities are:

  • I want to declutter to reduce stress and gain more freedom.
  • I want to get rid of at least 50% of my belongings.
  • I want to keep only the things that I use regularly, that I need, that I love, or that have sentimental value.
  • I want to fit all my belongings in my new home without feeling cramped or overwhelmed.
  • I want to create a calming and peaceful living environment
  • I want to downsize for a simpler lifestyle
  • I want to save time and find things easily
  • I want to be more environmentally conscious
  • I want to create a more organised and efficient living space.
  • I want to downsize my possessions to make moving or relocating easier in the future.
  • I want to create a clutter-free environment that promotes better mental and emotional well-being.

Write down your goals and priorities, create a visual representation, and display them prominently where you can easily see them. This will serve as a constant motivation for your decluttering journey

Marie Kondo, a professional declutter expert, emphasises in her book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” that one should consider discarding her book after reading, showcasing her level of commitment. This insight highlights the dedication to simplifying and decluttering your life.

Step 2: Create a Timeline

The next step to decluttering your home before moving is to create a timeline. Decluttering can take much time and effort, so you don’t want to leave it until the last minute. Start decluttering as early as possible, preferably at least four weeks before your move date.

To create a timeline, estimate how long it will take you to declutter each room or area of your home. You can use a spreadsheet, a calendar, or an app to plan your schedule. For example, you can allocate one day for each room or one hour for each category.

Be realistic and flexible with your timeline. Don’t try to do too much in one day or one session. Give yourself enough time to sort through your belongings carefully and make thoughtful decisions. Also, leave some buffer time for unexpected delays or challenges.

Step 3: Gather Supplies

The third step to declutter your home before moving is to gather supplies. You will need some tools and materials to help you sort, pack, label, donate, sell, or dispose of your items.

Some of the supplies you will need are

  • Boxes or bags for packing
  • Containers for sorting into “Sell,” “Donate,” “Trash,” and “Keep” categories. 
  • Labels or markers for labelling
  • Tape or scissors for sealing
  • Trash bags for disposal
  • Receipts or forms for donating
  • Camera or phone for selling

You can buy these supplies from a local store or online. You can also reuse or recycle boxes or bags from previous deliveries or purchases.

Step 4: Sort Items Room by Room

The fourth step to declutter your home before moving is to sort items room by room. Instead of jumping from one area to another, focus on one room at a time and finish it before moving on to the next one. This will help you declutter more efficiently and effectively.

To sort items room by room, start with the easiest or least used rooms first. These could be the guest room, the basement, the attic, the garage, etc. These rooms usually have more clutter and less sentimental value than the main rooms of your home.

As you go through each room, sort your items into four piles: keep, sell, donate, and trash. Use the following questions to help you decide what pile each item belongs to:

  • Do I use it regularly?
  • Do I need it?
  • Do I love it?
  • Does it fit my current lifestyle and needs?
  • Does it have sentimental value?
  • Will it fit in my new home?
  • Have I used it in the last year?
  • Is it in good condition and worth keeping or selling?
  • Does it have a designated place in my new home?
  • Is it a duplicate item that I don’t need multiples of?
  • Does it align with my future goals and aspirations?
  • Will I  have time to use or appreciate it in the future?
  • Does it evoke positive emotions and add value to my life?
  • Does it represent who I am currently, rather than who I used to be?
  • Am I holding onto it out of guilt or obligation rather than genuine desire or necessity?
  • Would someone else benefit from this item more than I would?

Declutter enthusiast and TV presenter Anthea Turner has a simple answer to these questions“If it’s not beautiful, useful, or sentimental, then get rid of it!”

Be ruthless and honest with yourself. Don’t keep things just because you paid a lot for them, received them as gifts, or might use them someday. Only keep the things that truly add value to your life.

Step 5: Declutter by Category

The fifth step to decluttering your home before moving is to declutter by category—grouping similar items and decluttering them together. For example, you can declutter clothes, books, kitchenware, and more in separate categories.

Decluttering by category offers several benefits. It allows you to see the quantity of each item and make easy comparisons. Additionally, It helps identify duplicates or unnecessary items and simplifies organising and packing the belongings you choose to keep.

You can use the following categories as a guide:

  • Clothes
  • Books
  • Papers
  • Media
  • Electronics
  • Kitchenware
  • Linens
  • Toiletries
  • Decorations
  • Tools
  • Toys
  • Furniture
  • Appliances
  • Art and Art Supplies
  • Outdoor Items
  • Collectables
  • Cables and Electronics Accessories
  • Office Supplies
  • Personal Care Products
  • Hobby or Craft Supplies
  • Shoes and Footwear
  • Jewellery and Accessories
  • Musical Instruments
  • Alright, let’s wrap it up here. You’ve got the main idea.

You can also create categories or subcategories based on your preferences and needs.

Step 6: Apply the KonMari Method

The sixth step to declutter your home before moving is to apply the KonMari method. The KonMari method is a popular decluttering technique created by Japanese organising expert Marie Kondo. It is based on the principle of keeping only the things that spark joy in your life.

Numerous well-known personalities, including Jimmy Kimmel, Hassan Minhaj, Katy Perry, and many others, have experimented with the KonMari method.

To apply the KonMari method, follow these steps:

  • Gather all the items of one category in one place.
  • Pick up each item one by one and ask yourself, “Does this spark joy?”
  • If it does, keep it and thank it for serving you.
  • If it doesn’t, let it go and thank it for teaching you.
  • Repeat until you have gone through all the items in that category.
  • Store the items you want to keep in a way that makes them visible and accessible.

The KonMari method can help you declutter more effectively and emotionally. It can also help you cultivate gratitude and appreciation for your belongings.

Step 7: Evaluate Sentimental Items

The seventh step to declutter your home before moving is to evaluate sentimental items. Sentimental items are those that have a special meaning or connection to you, such as photos, letters, gifts, souvenirs, etc.

Sentimental items can be hard to declutter because they evoke memories and emotions. However, not all sentimental items are worth keeping. Some of them may be outdated, damaged, or irrelevant to your current life.

To evaluate sentimental items, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does this item bring me joy or sadness?
  • Does this item represent who I am or who I was?
  • Does this item remind me of a happy or painful memory?
  • Do I have other ways to remember or honour this person or event?
  • Do I have too many similar items?
  • Does this item align with my current values and goals?
  • Does this item have a practical use or purpose in my life now?
  • Am I keeping this item out of obligation or guilt?
  • Is this item taking up space that I could use for something else I value more?

If the item brings you joy, represents who you are, reminds you of a happy memory, has no other substitutes, and is unique, then keep it. If not, consider letting it go.

Step 8: Donate or Sell Unwanted Items

The eighth step to declutter your home before moving is to donate or sell unwanted items. Once you have sorted your items into piles, it’s time to get rid of the ones you don’t want to keep. The best way to do this is to donate or sell them.

Donating your unwanted items can help you support a good cause and make someone else happy. You can donate your items to local charities, thrift stores, shelters, libraries, schools, etc. You can also get a tax deduction for your donations if you get a receipt or a form from the organisation.

Whichever option you choose, make sure to do it as soon as possible after sorting your items. Don’t let them sit around and take up space in your home. The sooner you get rid of them, the easier it will be to pack and move.

Leo Babuta, the creator and author of the book Zen Habits, beautifully captures the essence of decluttering: ‘Decluttered spaces invite us to think more deeply about what we really need and want in our lives.'”

Step 9: Dispose of Unwanted Items

The ninth step to declutter your home before moving is to dispose of unwanted items. Some of the items that you don’t want to keep may not be suitable for donation or sale. These could be broken, damaged, expired, hazardous, or illegal items.

To dispose of unwanted items, you need to follow the proper guidelines and regulations for your area. You can check with your local waste management or scrap yard managers to find out how to dispose of different types of items. Some examples are:

  • Batteries, electronics, light bulbs, paint, and other hazardous waste: These items contain toxic or flammable substances that can harm the environment and human health. They need to be disposed of at special facilities or collection events that can handle them safely and responsibly.
  • Furniture, mattresses, appliances, and other bulky items: These items are too large or heavy to fit in your regular trash bin. They need to be picked up by a special service or hauled to a dump or landfill. You may need to pay a fee or make an appointment for this service.
  • Medicines, personal care products, and other expired items: These items can lose their effectiveness or become harmful over time. They need to be disposed of carefully and securely. You can check with your local pharmacy or health department if they have a take-back program or a drop-off location for these items.

Step 10: Organise and Pack Efficiently

The tenth step to declutter your home before moving is to organise and pack efficiently. After you have decided what to keep and what to get rid of, you need to pack the items you want to bring with you in a way that maximises space and minimises damage.

To organise and pack efficiently, follow these tips:

  • Use the right size and type of boxes or containers for different items. For example, use small boxes for heavy items like books, medium boxes for bulky items like clothes, and large boxes for light items like pillows. You can also use clear plastic bins for items that you want to see or access easily.
  • Label your boxes or containers clearly and accurately. Write the name of the room, the category of items, and any special instructions on the top and sides of each box or container. You can also use colour-coded stickers or tape to indicate which room each box belongs to.
  • Pack similar items together and fill any gaps with packing materials. For example, pack all your dishes in one box and wrap them with newspaper, bubble wrap, or towels. Fill any empty spaces with crumpled paper or other cushioning materials to prevent shifting or breaking.
  • Pack fragile or valuable items with extra care and attention. For example, pack your jewellery, electronics, artwork, or documents in separate boxes or bags and label them as fragile. Use plenty of padding and protection for these items and keep them with you during the move if possible.
  • Pack an essentials box or bag for each family member. This should contain the items that you will need for the first day or night in your new home, such as toiletries, medications, clothes, snacks, chargers, etc. Keep this box or bag with you during the move and unpack it first when you arrive.

Step 11: Final Walkthrough and Reassessment

The eleventh and final step to declutter your home before moving is to do a final walkthrough and reassessment. It is your last chance to check that everything is in order and that you are not leaving anything behind.

To do a final walkthrough and reassessment, follow these steps:

  • Walk through each room and closet of your home and look for any items that you may have missed or forgotten. Check all the drawers, cabinets, shelves, corners, and hidden spaces for any belongings that you want to keep or get rid of.
  • Make sure that all the appliances, fixtures, switches, outlets, faucets, windows, doors, locks, alarms, etc. are working properly and are turned off or unplugged. If you are renting your home, take photos of the condition of the property for reference.
  • Make sure that all the trash, recycling, donations, or sales are taken care of. Dispose of any hazardous waste properly and safely. If you have hired a professional moving company, make sure that they have loaded everything correctly and securely.
  • Do a final sweep of the exterior of your home and look for any damage or issues that need to be addressed. Check the roof, gutters, siding, lawn, garden, driveway, etc. for any problems or repairs. If you are selling your home, make sure that it looks presentable and inviting.
  • Say goodbye to your old home and thank it for the memories and experiences that it has given you. Take a moment to appreciate what you have accomplished and how much you have decluttered.


Decluttering your home before moving is a challenging task, but it’s rewarding. It simplifies your life, saves money and time and allows you to start fresh in your new home.

We hope this blog post has given you some handy tips and tricks to help you declutter your home before moving. 

Remember to set clear goals and priorities, create a timeline, gather supplies, sort items room by room, declutter by category, apply the KonMari method, evaluate sentimental items, donate or sell unwanted items, dispose of unwanted items, organise and pack efficiently, and do a final walkthrough and reassessment.

If you wish to make your move smoother, consider hiring a reliable removalist. Their expertise can significantly alleviate the stress of moving, ensuring a smooth transition to your new home. 

Thank you for reading. Happy tidying up!

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